Exasperation with that hypocrisy -- even if lost on the American public -- has never faded for Arabs. It is the foundation of al Qaeda's hatred for the U.S., and the reason its words resonate with millions of Muslims who would never support Sharia law or a return to a caliphate.
2. In Jordan, for the third Friday in a row, several thousand protesters marched on downtown Amman following Friday prayers; last week in Syria, President Assad met with the Iranian foreign minister to discuss
the fate of Lebanon, the chessboard of the region, where, three weeks ago, as President Obama met
with Prime Minister Saad Hariri, the American backed coalition was toppled by Hezbollah.
In the last month, in addition to watching allies in Beirut and Tunis fall, Washington saw Ehud Barak and four others abandon Israel's Labor Party to remain in step with the conservative government of Benjamin Netanyahu; the threat of their withdrawal was the last lever Israeli moderates and Washington held to push Bibi toward peace negotiations.
Washington has, in effect, been neutered across the Middle East.
3. I drove across the Sinai a few summers ago, from Cairo to Ras el Masri, and then took a ferry to Jordan. I stopped at nearly every hamlet along the way, on account of a sick travel mate, and spoke with dozens of Egyptians I came across - mechanics, vendors, and soldiers alone in the dessert night, guarding the burned out hulls of buses and trucks that roving Bedouin might otherwise carry away.
Overwhelmingly, both in Egypt and more broadly in the region, one finds people who are genuinely intrigued by the idea of America. Perhaps because they live beneath tyrants they vehemently oppose, Arabs -- contrary to popular belief -- seem quite adept at separating government policies from the beliefs of citizens.
They don't hate us. They do at times hate our government, though, and quite reasonably, at that.
But the notion of a country where citizens are truly equal before the law; where everyday life is not mired in corruption; and where, most importantly, there are genuine opportunities for advancement, resonate quite loudly. There is a level of fascination with the American idea that one struggles to wrap the mind around.
Today, for the first time in more than half a century, we are a step closer to reconciling the powerful ideas underpinning our nation with the stifling fate we help force upon millions of Arabs. It comes with risks, particular for Israel, but the status quo was untenable, and can no longer fit American interests.
4. It's not likely that the Egyptian military will dash the calm their presence has instilled. If protesters choose not to clash with them, but, instead, return to peaceful protests, I think a dull grind is likely. Martial law will have to be imposed.
There will come a time, though, when the aging Mubarak is told to leave. It may prove quite soon. He is no longer of value to the military, and that, in the end, is all that matters. As always, as go the generals goes the revolution.